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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nature and Nostalgia - Elk Neck State Park

First view after leaving the parking lot, Elk Neck State Park
You might notice that it has been a very long time since I posted anything to this blog. I do enjoy posting, but I only do so when I have the time, and, even more to the point, when I have something worth posting. I have not gone hiking in the past several months. However, I recently went someplace that was new to me.

I love nature (as a hiker, that should be obvious). I also enjoy reading about history. Isn’t it nice to have a little of both? That’s what this hike is. I went to Turkey Point, in Elk Neck State Park. It’s on the Chesapeake Bay, northeast of Baltimore, and not far from the border to Delaware. The closest town is North East, Maryland.

Just out of the parking lot, you see the first scenic view (above), taken from the cliffs high above the Northeast River. It’s an excellent vantagepoint, and a dramatic place to start the hike.

The next photo is of the boats on the river, and you can see the rolling hills further behind...

Here is a field that is a transition area from these opening cliff views to the heart of the park. Not such dramatic scenery, but it’s a pleasant enough place:

From here on comes the crux of the park. A 100-year old historic lighthouse, recently restored and beyond it, the Chesapeake Bay beckons…

The Chesapeake Bay features prominently in early Maryland History. The Chesapeake Bay, although very polluted now, was very important to the explorers who first discovered and explored Maryland and Virginia. It remained an important body of water for a long time, and many lighthouses like this one helped to guide the ships safely. The lighthouse is of course at a high point with a clear view of the surrounding water, and its beacon kept ships from crashing into the cliffs.

I came to this park with my friend Peter Philip. He is from Berlin, Germany, and he lived here in the Washington, DC area for a while when he was a student. That is when I met him. Since going back to Germany, he has come to visit me every now and then. When we took this trip, it was something new for both of us.

If the colors in these photos look particularly intense, then I am very pleased. They capture the essence of this experience well. Although we were already well into fall, this day was a particularly warm and comfortable one, with perfect weather. We lingered for a long time by the lighthouse and by its viewpoint over the bay. It was really relaxing and tranquil, although there was a fair number of people in the park. I felt at ease in this peaceful setting. The situation here was far better than in some of my other hiking trips of late.

After a while, we took a trail that went down from these heights to the water’s edge. Here is a photo of Peter by the water’s edge…

Here is the shoreline…

We took our time to wander back up from the shoreline through the meadow, and back to the lighthouse again. Then we went back to the car, taking it nice and slow. It has been a while since I got such rewarding views with such little effort.

I have no doubt mentioned several times that it is hard for me to get friends to go hiking with me. Peter is an exception. My friends who come from other countries seem to be really into it. Otherwise I pretty much go by myself. I really ought to find a hiking club, I guess. Then I might be motivated to go out more often, and my postings would be more frequent. What has helped is that I recently bought a new digital camera, which is both more powerful and easier to use than any other I have used. It is small and easy to carry, and it delivers great results. So now I have no excuse to leave it behind.


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